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Local Language Education in Southern Siberia

The Republics of Tyva and Altai

Joan F. Chevalier

This interdisciplinary study presents an overview of local and federal policies affecting language education in southern Siberia in the Republic of Altai and the Republic of Tyva. In the 1990s, as part of a broader effort to revitalize local languages, educational policies were adopted that aimed to strengthen local language education. Since 2005, in part due to federal education reforms, priorities in language education have shifted. Grassroots support for strengthening local language education has faded with the introduction of federally mandated high stakes testing. The comparison of policies in these two regions highlights the negative effects of federal education reforms on local language education.

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Joan F. Chevalier

Language contact between Russian and non-Russian-speaking populations in the Russian Federation has typically produced subtractive bilingualism with successive generations of ethnolingual minorities shifting to Russian. Tuvan, an Altai-Sayan Turkic language spoken in the Republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, displayed a high level of intergenerational transmission during the Soviet period. This interdisciplinary study examines the evolution of the Tuvan literary language and the key institutions supporting Tuvan language literacy. The article places the development of Tuvan language literacy in a historical perspective, viewing it as part of the overall evolution of Tuvan-Russian language contact. The article also reviews local policies enacted to revitalize Tuvan literacy since the end of the Soviet period.